The disappearing White House press briefings explained

The daily White House press briefing is no longer routine. In fact, reporters can't even count on one weekly...

Posted: Sep 22, 2018 7:13 AM
Updated: Sep 22, 2018 7:13 AM

The daily White House press briefing is no longer routine. In fact, reporters can't even count on one weekly anymore. So far this month, there has only been one press briefing in total.

But communication between the President and the press has nonetheless continued, whether it's in the form of tweets, or impromptu news conferences on the White House lawn.

"This president's been awfully available," Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents' Association told CNN's Brian Stelter for this week's Reliable Sources podcast. "And that reflects in part the fact that he has really been his own communications director."

That's not to say that press briefings no longer have value.

Press briefings are particularly important for smaller news outlets that do not typically get a lot of attention from the White House staff, as well as reporters who aren't covering the top story of the day, Knox said.

It is the White House Correspondents' Association's job to ensure that journalists have access to the White House. Knox said organization members have voiced concern about the decrease in press briefings, and he has brought these concerns to the attention of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"She's heard us out," Knox said, in response to Stelter asking why the association hasn't expressed more frustration on the issue. But projecting rage over the situation is not Knox's preferred route. "I don't think that the screaming really has a lot of value in that relationship. I would prefer to try to work productively through this" he said.

Listen to the whole podcast here:

The daily briefings have all but stopped under Trump, but Knox said they have had "ebbs and flows over time" in previous presidencies.

"I remember times when, you know, Obama would recede and we would pepper Jay Carney with questions about when he would next [take questions from the press]," he said. Carney served as former president Barack Obama's press secretary from 2011 to 2014.

There's something that concerns Knox more than the diminishing frequency of press briefings under the Trump administration.

"One of the things that this administration has done is claw back a lot of government information that was public in the Obama, Bush and even the Clinton years," he said.

He cited the War Powers Act as an example -- a law that requires a public letter be submitted to Congress by the President every six months, "laying out where American troops are in harm's way and how many of them are in harm's way." The current administration has eliminated the head count of Americans in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq from the letter, Knox said.

"When you pull that kind of information out of the public eye, you're making the job of holding the federal government accountable more difficult," he said.

Last year, Olivier wrote about this issue, and said he was able to figure out how many American troops were in those specific places by going through Pentagon briefings and Pentagon documents.

With Pentagon briefings notably on the decline, it would make research like Knox's even more challenging. And the wars abroad are an issue he believes needs more spotlight.

"It's amazing how little scrutiny it's getting," he said. "Donald Trump inherited a lot of military conflicts. He's expanded a lot of them as well. And we can't forget this. We can't."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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